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Why There's No Teacher Like Grandma - Ginny Seuffert

Why There’s No Teacher Like Grandma


Is there still time to save a generation of children from public schools? Ginny Seuffert’s clarion call for Grandma to help homeschool their grandchildren.

Dear Grandma,

Early on a cold sunny day, I took my coffee and breakfast, sat in my comfy recliner, and opened the Chicago Tribune.

The youngest of my many children recently turned twenty-two, and although she lives at home, she is frequently off to work before I am out of bed.

My days of hectic breakfasts, followed by throwing a load of laundry into the washer, changing diapers, nursing a baby, all the while ordering kids to start their schoolwork without me, are over, and I can now enjoy a well-earned rest.

Well maybe.

Before 8 A.M, my 3rd grade granddaughter interrupts me with a pile of books in her arms. She is hoping for an early start in her homeschooling day, mostly so she can have an early finish and play outside.

I push my newspaper to the side and begin to review common denominators. A few minutes later, her 4th grade brother, realizing she will be running around in the sunshine before he will, gets his books and joins us. So much for peaceful retirement!

Why, you may understandably inquire, do I trade the little free time I have to help homeschool my grandchildren? (I also have a full time job. Twelve kids was not a retirement plan!)

The reasons have not really changed since I started teaching my own children in the ‘80’s. Public school is simply not a viable option, in fact less of a consideration than it was thirty years ago.

  • Despite the dire warnings issued during the Reagan Administration, educational standards have actually worsened in government schools. In most places, moving to a good district will no longer help. Over forty states have imposed identical educational standards on all students.
  • The federal government has ordered that students be allowed to choose the gender of locker rooms and washrooms they use. Traditional family values are actively being undermined by the establishment, to be replaced with a moral relativism unlike anything previously seen in history. Pressure on students to conform to the new values, or lack thereof, can be overwhelming.
  • The social situation among students themselves is frequently even more distressing. Promiscuity, drug use, vulgar language, immodest dress, tattoos, weird piercings, and inappropriate use of social media applications are ubiquitous.

It would break this grandma’s heart to see these precious children in government schools.

For generations, parish schools and diocesan high schools provided real alternatives to the government system, but that option is becoming more and more elusive.

Catholic schools have closed all over the country, leaving many families with long drives twice a day, or with no school within driving distance at all. Religious sisters have all but disappeared and the secular staff often has far better training in academic subjects than in faith formation. Rising costs have placed tuition costs outside the resources of many large families.

Sadly, we see no relief in sight.

“Okay,” perhaps you are thinking, “but, why not have the children’s mother (or father, for that matter) teach them? Didn’t you do it on your own?” I did and she does.

We share our home with my son, his wife, and their six children. My daughter-in-law, Liz, teaches kindergarten and 1st grade, and I tackle the 3rd and 4th, with occasional overlap on both sides. I help, not because Liz can’t do it on her own, but because I remember how tough it was homeschooling on my own.

Homeschooling four children, with two toddlers running around, is an all day affair. Because I carry half the load, school almost always wraps up in the morning.

My grandchildren spend their afternoons at nature centers, zoos, libraries, conservatories, and museums. Because there are two adults, the children have twice the opportunity to attend daily Mass, go to Adoration, or visit a shrine. I don’t have little ones, so grandma can take car trips – even overnights – and visit historical sights.

The grandkids enjoy lives rich in experiences outside formal bookwork.

Grandma is doing okay too!

It is extraordinarily rewarding to teach a child to read, and to revisit a beloved book I haven’t read in years. I consider it an honor and a privilege to pass on love of our country and all of its rich history and traditions.

To be more honest than humble, I’m pretty adept at diagramming sentences, teaching fractions, and helping kids to memorize the Ten Commandments – and now I get to do it all over again, this time with the confidence of knowing in advance that it all works so well.

I enjoy rich daily interaction with those I love best. There is not a quiet cup of coffee in the world I would trade for this!

Think about it, Grandma.

Your grandchildren could get a top-flight education, and you get time with them.

What could be better? Your willingness might be just what is needed to make homeschooling work.


Header photo CC: Adobe Stock:

About Ginny Seuffert

Ginny Seuffert has been a leading writer and speaker about homeschooling and Catholic family life for more than two decades. She has given hundreds of talks at conferences and written three books. Meet Ginny | Ginny's Books
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